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Vintage Dinner Suit/Tuxedo? Crunched for time and need help

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hi all,

 

I am in pretty dire need of a nice tuxedo/dinner suit ASAP. I just found out I've got a formal event on the 26th, and I need to acquire a tuxedo, evening vest, formal shirt and etc and have them all tailored by then. Oh and I'm a college student, so it needs to be relatively cheap.

 

I also hate the way many modern tuxedos are styled, and I much prefer the classic black tie tux- no vents, jetted pockets, ridiculous peak lapels/slim shawl, 1 button. Looking to get a white marcella or similar evening waistcoat and go for the 1930s black tie archetype. 

 

I was originally interested in this:

 

http://www.savvyrow.co.uk/products/superb-1930s-1940s-vintage-black-doeskin-finish-dinner-jacket-38-39r

 

I am a tall and skinny guy, at around 6'2" 150lbs and I have an idea in my head that the wide lapels (which I am really enamored with for some reason, I like that the peaks go practically over the shoulders of the jacket, though I suspect some of that has to do with how the jacket is sitting on the manequenn and not how it would sit on a real body) would be flattering and serve to broaden my siluhette if that makes any sense, verses slim lapels making you look even taller/longer. I don't mind a bit of wear, because I am looking for something on the cheap (not looking to spend more than $250 on the dinner jacket and trousers, because I'll definitely need alterations because of my very slim bodytype). 

 

The measurements on the above jacket are pretty close, everything matches except for the waist, which as per usual, I'd have to get taken in in spades. I hate that there are moth bite holes, but they are small and like I said, I need/want this cheap. The overall impression that a well tailored classic tux would make (given the fact that all my peers will likely not even bother witha  tux or get a horrible rented one) would far outweigh something so minor.

 

My issue, then, is that the tux is an orphan, and I don't know where I could find vintage trousers to match the very matte wool of the vintage jacket. Modern tuxedo trousers just aren't made like that anymore. Then there's the fact that sizing wise, I'm a 32 waist and a ~33in inseam.

 

Would anyone be able to point me in the direction of something suitable? I've had no luck scouring SF, trolling the bay (the sheer amount of stuff makes it hard to find something so generically categorized, yet specific in size and material) and browsing vintage sites.

 

Or are there any vintage formalwear places in NYC (I'd like to buy, not rent, I hate ill-fitting suiting) that I could go to and have a look around?

 

Googling has turned up just about nothing and I don't have the time or luxury of going through all 10,000 consignment, vintage and thrift shops in the hopes of finding something so rare in size.

 

Thanks!

post #2 of 11
You have 11 days, including today, to cover shipping and alterations? For my tailor, that means I'd need the suit in hand in 4 days. That's really tight. If I were in your shoes, unfortunately, I'd rent, and be on the look out for next time.

Other options include Joseph A Bank, or even H&M or Zara, given your build. It's just not realistic to find something vintage, with specifications about style, in your size, on a budget, and in essentially one day.

You can check ebay and/or etsy (sizing info tends to be lacking on etsy), but you're going to need something basically perfect and ready to go, which is highly unlikely. In general, you need lots of time and patience for vintage clothing, which you don't have here.

ETA: Don't buy a jacket on its own unless you're going with an ivory or smoking jacket - the pants won't match and it won't look good.
post #3 of 11
Fast, cheap, good. Pick 2.
post #4 of 11

You are really strapped from time! Unfortunately, I really do think your only plausible option here would be to rent one and deal with an odd fitted suit just this once. The only other option I can think of is to take a day off soon and just spend it searching and hopefully you will find something that is close enough to what you want. Good luck to you!

post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 

Yeah I realize this is quite unrealistic. Gotta hate poor event planning (having to get a date in under two weeks was great fun too).

 

You've all raised great points, this doesn't really seem feasible. I have a great relationship with my tailor and on several occasions have had him do major surgery in 3 days/other ridiculous time constraints and he has always pulled through. However, finding and getting the items in that time really just looks like it would be a herculean task in and of itself, especially given that the best vintage formalwear resources are located on the other side of the pond. Even if I find the dinner suit, I'd have to get a stiff-front shirt (also needing alteration), studs/links, waistcoat(possibly needing alteration?) and braces all in under two weeks. Pretty impossible.

 

In light of these facts, I'll probably go for a smoking jacket (just spend an afternoon scouring the net till I find a vintage one that I like in my size, shouldn't be too hard) in dark blue or perhaps burgundy or even black? Then pair with a nice pair of evening trousers.

 

I LOVE these for some inane reason:

 

http://www.mrporter.com/product/333360

 

However, besides the fact that they're pricey (I can stretch my budget a good bit if I'm buying items I could use on a more frequent basis, a tuxedo is just a huge waste of cash considering it'll see two, maybe three, uses a year until I am a little older), it is sold out in my size (and my bank account is thankful).

 

I'm normally more of an SW&D guy, so I don't know too much about this side of the wall other than the basics of fit, construction, style etc. Would you guys have any recommendations as to where I should look for similar items as the aforementioned trousers/what brands, etc to be looking at? I'd prefer under $350, given that I'll still have to get a smoking jacket and a nice shirt.

 

The reason I like the silk-jacquard pattern is it adds a bit of flash/pop and would be a great club/bar/night out on the town piece on nights other than a formal dance. I also find that it isn't too garish or toooo trashy "black tie creative", at least for someone as young as me. However, I'd love some advice on a good pair of more formal trousers that are modern and slim fitting in a midnight blue or black, as I doubt printed trousers are too the taste of many on here and solid color trousers are probably a more sensible investment in any case. I've done some searching but there is just such a volume of stuff that fits the bill that I don't know where to even start. I'd really love to have a pair that are meant to be worn with braces, but I'm not having much luck.

 

I should mention that the dress for this "formal", while 25 years ago might have meant strictly black tie and the like, is now a variation of "everyone wear a suit". I just wanted to do the thing justice and get a proper black-tie outfit together, especially given that these formals have been an annual occurrence for probably well over a half century (fraternity formal).

 

Also, recommendations for good white formal shirting (soft front, since I'm not going the tuxedo route) for a person with a body type such as mine? I could do hidden placket or just nice fat MOP buttons or something, doesn't need to be studs or even french cuffs. Not really looking to spend too much on a shirt (preferably under $150/200max), because they inevitably get ruined very easily because of sloppy drunks/drunkeness.

post #6 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by VirtruviusR View Post

Yeah I realize this is quite unrealistic. Gotta hate poor event planning (having to get a date in under two weeks was great fun too).

You've all raised great points, this doesn't really seem feasible. I have a great relationship with my tailor and on several occasions have had him do major surgery in 3 days/other ridiculous time constraints and he has always pulled through. However, finding and getting the items in that time really just looks like it would be a herculean task in and of itself, especially given that the best vintage formalwear resources are located on the other side of the pond. Even if I find the dinner suit, I'd have to get a stiff-front shirt (also needing alteration), studs/links, waistcoat(possibly needing alteration?) and braces all in under two weeks. Pretty impossible.

In light of these facts, I'll probably go for a smoking jacket (just spend an afternoon scouring the net till I find a vintage one that I like in my size, shouldn't be too hard) in dark blue or perhaps burgundy or even black? Then pair with a nice pair of evening trousers.

I LOVE these for some inane reason:

http://www.mrporter.com/product/333360

However, besides the fact that they're pricey (I can stretch my budget a good bit if I'm buying items I could use on a more frequent basis, a tuxedo is just a huge waste of cash considering it'll see two, maybe three, uses a year until I am a little older), it is sold out in my size (and my bank account is thankful).

I'm normally more of an SW&D guy, so I don't know too much about this side of the wall other than the basics of fit, construction, style etc. Would you guys have any recommendations as to where I should look for similar items as the aforementioned trousers/what brands, etc to be looking at? I'd prefer under $350, given that I'll still have to get a smoking jacket and a nice shirt.

The reason I like the silk-jacquard pattern is it adds a bit of flash/pop and would be a great club/bar/night out on the town piece on nights other than a formal dance. I also find that it isn't too garish or toooo trashy "black tie creative", at least for someone as young as me. I should mention that the dress for this "formal", while 25 years ago might have meant strictly black tie and the like, is now a variation of "everyone wear a suit". I just wanted to do the thing justice and get a proper black-tie outfit together, especially given that these formals have been an annual occurrence for probably well over a half century (fraternity formal).

Also, recommendations for good white formal shirting (soft front, since I'm not going the tuxedo route) for a person with a body type such as mine? I could do hidden placket or just nice fat MOP buttons or something, doesn't need to be studs or even french cuffs. Not really looking to spend too much on a shirt (preferably under $150/200max), because they inevitably get ruined very easily because of other sloppy drunks.

What is your overall budget? You said earlier you were looking for a full tux for under 250, then said if you found a smoking jacket you could do a pair of pants for 350, and a shirt for 200. You'll get a lot more mileage keeping the shirt under 100 and putting that towards the other pieces. What is, realistically, your total maximum budget? If you can give us this, then people can make some real recommendations. For example, Suitsupply might work for that budget and your slim build. Also, Brooks Brothers just launched their Gatsby collection on their website, so they might have something with the vintage feel you want but with more size availability.
post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 

If it's things that see dual/more frequent usage, I could stretch to ~$550 or so (not including alterations). I just could not justify spending that kind of money on a tuxedo, given my age and the many other holes in my wardrobe. 

 

The way I see it:

 

1) Nice white shirt = lots of use

 

2) Nice dress/more formal pants = frequent use on weekends, nice dinners, etc.

 

3) Smoking jackets = bars/clubbing + the odd house party, so decently often

 

but a tuxedo = 3-4x a year, absolute max.

 

Edit: That Gatsby Collection Backless Vest, so nice. Must resist. And I didn't realize suitsupply tuxedo trousers were a buck fifty, that's not at all unreasonable.


Edited by VirtruviusR - 4/15/13 at 11:32am
post #8 of 11
I say rent. This way you'll have the time to buy what you really need.
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 

Figured it all out in the end. Went with this:

 

 

Pretty pleased with how it all looks in my head, and I have most of it in hand already. Jacket will be in on Monday I believe, so just enough time to get it taken in a bit (rest of the measurements should be spot on). My feeling is that it is creative and youthful enough, without looking overly flashy or stuffy. Just need to polish up the shoes, get some minor alterations here and there and switch out the strap on my watch and I should be good to go.

 

Ended up coming in right at my adjusted budget ($~480ish w/o alterations)

post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 

So it turned out quite well if I do say so myself, though there were some minor things I can improve upon and play with for next year.

 

Next time: Wing Collar shirt/better formal shirt, pants let out slightly (had to go with a different tailor to get it done in time and he hemmed it a bit too high for where I like a formal pant to sit), proper formal braces, minor adjustments to smoking jacket, alter vest *slightly*

 

 

 

 

post #11 of 11
Well done. Considering your time limitations, I think you did a fine job.

I'm not a fan of wing collar shirts with black tie, though there are some that are. For the next go-round, perhaps have your tailor address the sleeves on your jacket. There's some bunching happening there, though from the photos it's difficult to tell why.
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